The Breaking pattern are a rock/alt/pop band that hails from the Phoenix area. Although they have officially only been a band for almost a year now, they are all veterans of the Arizona scene. Lead Singer/Guitarist Derek Hackman is joined by guitartist Nick Benzer, Brandon Dillman on Drums, and Jacob Beaver on Bass to round out the current line up. Their debut full length album, There are Roadmaps in our Veins came out April 8th and has garnered some great reviews on independent sites since it's release. The album is a great mix of a styles of music that TBD likes to call a "balance between melodic, acoustic driven ambiance and an intensity derived from today’s modern indie rock. Fueled by flowery, introspective lyrics, the music creates an excitingly imaginative, atmospheric pop genre." I recently was able to have a conversation with lead singer Derek and we talked about their music, the local Phoenix scene, business, and how music has helped him in life. Here is what he had to say:
How have things gone since the release of There are Roadmaps in our Veins?
Really fantastic actually. We are an independent band..a lot of do it yourself. And while we are relatively new, we have been around with various projects. When we formed this band we had a little bit more direction of where we wanted to go with it. But it really did help that we already had a fan base to build on. Out of all things, I think what has really stood out to me, besides all of the obvious things, was that we had our first show just the other night since we released the album. We weren't even the headliner, and it wasn't hard to bring people out to it. We had a really bigger audience than usual. I was like, "Maybe it's a good night.". But while we were there the fans sang along. They sang almost every word to every song that we played, and the album has only been out for like a month and a half! They actually listened! Being in a band knowing that they actually listened to your music and know the words to be able to sing it back to you. I think that is a true measure of success. Everything has been gaining steam, but the best part has been seeing the fans actually react to the CD and being able to see that with my own eyes and my own ears.
As an artist you always get scared. You put your heart into it, you put your life into it, and you think maybe someone isn't going to like it. You try and not take it personally when someone doesn't like it because everyone has their preferences. But, when someone does like it, it is the best feeling ever. It feels like people are connecting with you on an almost spiritual level.
Are there any plans for shows or tours to support the album?
We haven't announced anything just yet, but we will be announcing a headline show soon to bring the album to an audience where we will play the whole CD from front to back. And we are planning on doing some light touring throughout the west in our neighboring cities. We are also currently in talks with places in Colorado, some places in Salt Lake, and then we have some friends out in California that have offered to set us up with some shows. I think we are going to keep it in the southwest for at least this year though. Our strategy is to keep playing cities over and over to build a strong fan base. Hopefully next year we can look at going a bit more full scale, but this year we are going to stay in our region.
You are a strong supporter of the local scene in Phoenix. What makes Phoenix such a great music scene?
When I was a kid in high school, I lived on the outskirts of Phoenix in a small town. There was nothing. Usually our weekends consisted of doing things down the "wrong path". That was what everyone was doing, except a small group of us that would go to shows. A friend had taken me to a show to see a band, called Change of Pace, and I thought they were awesome. "These guys are from here?". I started checking out other bands and would check them out live. I started going to shows 2-3 times a week since the age of 16 and still go to at least two shows a week even now. That I think, it helped me, as it put me on the right path. It gave me a goal to be a musician. It gave me a sense of ambition. It gave me direction. It gave me a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and it gave me a sense of pride in Phoenix.
The reason I think the Phoenix music scene is one of the best in the world, is that it's not too small and it's not too big. If you go out to LA or Seattle or New York or even Austin there is just so much music. The really good bands can get drowned out because in order to get noticed it comes down to politics or even money over talent because there is just too much going on. And in smaller cities there is no one writing the music. There are no fans to market to or to listening to your music, and there are no criticis. There is nothing to feed off of, or inspire you. Phoenix is just the right size. It is close to LA, and pretty close to Austin. And it has a really distinct culture. I think because it has a really distinct culture already built in and because of it's size it is the perfect melting pot. We have a really good history. We have had some great bands come out of the area, and I can see it coming back real soon. We have a lot of friends in bands that are doing some great things and we hope to contribute to that also.
It seems as if you handle most of the business aspects for TBP on your own. Is this something you enjoy doing or is it more out of necessity?
I have learned to enjoy it. I learned out of necessity when I was in local bands before. We had modest success, but that was purely creative endeavor. We didn't try super hard to gain fans or network, or anything like that I realized. "Why aren't people listening to us?" I put all this time into creating the music. I put all this energy into going to best producers. "Why don't people care?" Instead of focusing my time on our image and how people see us, and the direction of the music, all I kept trying to do was to write that one big hit song. The music is the most important thing, hands down. It is what every band needs to focus on the most. But if you don't pair it with good business tactics, no one is going to be around to hear it. If you don't book good shows, don't network with other bands in your scene, if you don't reach out to press outlets to try and promote your work. If you don't spread the word, you can write the best songs ever and no one will ever hear them and no one will ever care.
The business tends to be a negative word. People think of it being corporate or you being a sell out. I put all this love and energy into this music and I want people to hear it. The business aspect can be creative also. We call ourselves "Emo Revival". We willingly took on a genre or a title that others have put on us before. Instead of shunning it off, we said "Yeah, sure. When you think about emo, we want you to think about us." And that is part of the business, but it is a creative decision also. Instead of floating in obscurity, we are trying to define ourselves as artists. And I think the business aspect is what is going to define us, define our niche, and help us come to our own. Yeah, I don't think business is a dirty word. I think it is what is going to get us out there. I also think of it as a creative endeavor in of itself.
It's a balance, that's for sure. But it is super important for bands to learn if they want to be successful.
It seems as if everyone has a different idea of what genre you belong to. Everything from pop, rock, emo, alt and punk. How do you think you would you describe your music?
It is kind of all of the above in a lot of ways. Genres are there to give you a general idea, but they can never quite tell you about a band. The way I describe us without using a genre is a rock band with pretty guitar melodies, poetic lyrics, with interesting pop based songs structures. You can compare us to whatever bands you want to. We tend to fall into pop-punk/emo because that is they type of bands that we get put in with. People can classify us anyway they want, I don't really mind. I think genres are there to give you a vague idea of a band, but I don't think it defines an artist necessarily. I think it does help give non listeners get an idea of what they are listening to before they hear it.
We took on the emo mantel because when someone asks, "Who the heck is this band I have never heard of?" They can be like, "Okay they are part of this scene." That gives them an idea of who we are. We will take whatever you want to call us...as long as you listen.
You have gone into great detail about all of the songs on the new album just before it's release. Is this something that you felt needed to be done to explain the album, or was it just a great way to introduce the individual songs prior to the albums release?
We are very heavy with the lyrics. We have a lot of lyrical intent. Most of those (posts) were explanations of the songs. A lot of artists write obscure songs that you can feel something from them, but not quite sure what they are saying. We are not one of those artists. We generally have a a point we are trying to make. It's not that you can't take a different meaning, or that are songs aren't multifaceted. I don't think they are one dimensional. But I do want to make art with intention. I don't want to make art for art's sake. We all have a desire to be heard, and music is how I have expressed it. It is really powerful when it connects to another person. I have felt that way before. I have felt that feeling of jealousy. I felt that feeling of betrayal before, or that feeling of infatuation before, and the way you describe it is just how I went through it. I love that kind of connection. A lot what we were trying to do is to deepen that connection with the fans. Generally our lyrics have always been what drives our fans, and I think that is why they sing so loud at shows. We try to use the words of the band to connect with the audience, and we thought it would be a fun thing to do and connect with our fans. It was our way of showing "Hey, this CD means something to me. I hope it will mean something to you."
Photo credit: Alex T. Reinhard
You start the album with the song Let Love Go The song is very atmospheric...almost post-rock like especially in the guitar work and has some very short, but powerful lyrics, "Yes you’re flawed, but well intentioned. This adversity you’ll overcome and grow stronger." Are the lyrics directed at anyone in particular or just a general affirmation to your fans?
Sort of both. I had written that, or at least a variation of that, to a specific person at one point. About the song, it was actually written as a post-rock song initially. One of the things we do live is we do a lot of instrumentals. We wrote that song specifically, and I thought that "No, I don't think this song needs a chorus. I don't think it is asking for it, but I do think that we need a release here. I need a line here to release this. I had that line written for awhile that I had written for a friend, and I kind of retooled it to be somewhat of an open message to our fans". We wanted it to be and introduction, not only of the album, but also of the band. It is the first song, on the first album that we ever put out, and we wanted the first words out of our mouths to be words of encouragement. Words of how we view life in a nutshell.
While talking about one of the songs, "Something/Anything" you explained that music has helped you get your weirdness out and in the lyrics you say "Normal is such a foreign world, that I'm not so sure I will ever learn." What would you like to say to those who feel socially awkward or deal with anxieties similar to those that you have dealt with?
A big thing that I want them to know, and a big part of that song and why we do these things is to connect with fans and to let them know that they are not alone. I know that sounds rather generic. But I think when you do feel like, "Hey, everyone is out there making friends. Everyone is out there having fun, but I am stuck here in my bedroom". You are not the only one. Most of us are here, trapped in our bedrooms every night pacing back and forth. Most of us are going through that stuff, and not all of us are going to have girlfriends at the age of 14, 15, 16, 17, or even later. Some of us are not going to have relationships until later in life. A lot of people judge themselves and measure themselves off of what they see others doing. We are all built differently, all created differently, and it is all beautiful...it is all good. There isn't anything wrong with social anxiety. It is normal, it is healthy at times, and it is understandable.
I don't think we should ever try and squash our originality. I don't ever think we should try to and swallow what makes us distinct or human. I think it is really good to embrace that. Music helped me get out my weirdness. I tried so hard to be liked. I tried so hard to be cool. I tried to learn all of the social cues and fit in. Music helped me meet people, get out of my shell and be confident in myself. I know not everyone has that ability, but I hope everyone can find something that will give them that confidence around others; whether it is sports or music or whatever your thing is. There is always something that you can find that will help you meet others. Music was the platform that helped me find a community, find my confidence, and let me embrace my originality instead of being ashamed of it.
Photo credit: Alex T. Reinhard
Can you give me a couple songs to add to our playlist of songs that have been hand picked by artists we have worked with?
The song that elicits the strongest emotion out of me...and even now I listen to it rarely because it is so powerful to me, is a song by Modest Mouse called "Life Like Weeds". The imagery in the song and feeling of that song makes you feel like you are drowning and holding onto something or someone. I always found that song to be the most powerful personally.
I think the second song would have to be Sufjan Stevens "Chicago" which is a really popular song. It is one of those songs that makes me feel like, "OK, I know I am not perfect. My life is not the greatest in the world, but everything is okay. I am breathing, and I am living, and I am here".That song kind of gives me that feeling and really helps me focus in on living in general.
I had a great time talking with Derek and would like to thank him for taking the time out of his day to have a conversation with Don't Let the Music Stop. Make sure you check out The Breaking Pattern and their debut album, There are Roadmaps in our Veins. You can follow them on your favorite social networking site: